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Starting a Band and How To Earn Money

Piggybank Money

It is often that musicians get confused about how they can earn decent money from doing something that they love - performing. Whilst you do want to perform at some events for free, to raise your local profile (etc.), it is still important for any artist to have some experience with being paid for the work they do. Having this knowledge gives you an important insight in to how the industry works and how to make enough cash to get yourself some tracks professionally recorded, mixed and mastered.

Below are ten easy steps that are guaranteed to help you...

1) Get a band. This may not be a point for everyone but some of the suggestions might apply… Whilst you may be a solo artist who prefers to sing to backing tracks this is not the best way to getting seriously recognised. As much as backing tracks will set you up for an almost 'perfect performance' what you really want is a buzzing 'live vibe'. This is almost always created by the way you interact with other musicians on the stage, particularly ones you know and trust to support you. If you have musicians you can transform your repertoire at any point from a function band into performing original tracks, and vice versa. If you are in a band then you know that your musical ideas will bounce of one another and can eventually become something beautiful, which leads me nicely on to the next point.

2) Don't settle for second best. You want musicians who are at the same level as you are and the worst thing that can happen is being held back by people who just aren't at your level. If this happens you will begin to doubt your band and will cause awkwardness that will be evident in the way you perform as you become more conscious of their performance over your own. You want to be pulling the customers in and convincing everyone that you mean business. Sometimes band members just need a couple of carefully placed comments to help them gel into the band, but failing this there is only one thing to do. Let them go. When doing this there is no point in being harsh, just tell them that you don’t think that they fit in with the band and talk about it rather than shouting because you don’t want to get a bad name for yourself in the community.

3) Social Networking – Be Social. Don’t just start a band and the next day create all your social networking sites. The chances are that you won’t have the best idea of how to promote yourself until you feel comfortable with whom you are working with. You want to be meticulous in planning this. You want a great image. You want to spend time creating a name and logo that fits in with the musical direction. If you immediately create a Facebook profile that is underdeveloped and then invite all of your friends then it may not be taken seriously… even when it is redesigned. The best thing to do is make the page private, write an in-depth bio and get out, take some photo’s, get yourself a band e-mail and a great logo which is individual and cannot be confused with any other local band… Because social networking is most likely going to be the first place that you become known, branded, the place where ‘likes’ matter and will be the place that fans will regularly visit you should remember that this should be the place which is regularly updated… But not too much otherwise people will walk. Remember Twitter, Google+, Facebook and even Myspace. If you need help creating a logo or other materials don’t Google search ‘logo creator’, get yourself on (a free online easy-to-use version of Photoshop) and create logo from scratch, in fact… create three so that you can debate which one looks ‘perfect’ – You’ll have fun in the process and this way you won’t get any messy third-party branding. By doing everything yourself here it isn’t as hard as it sounds and will save you loads of money that can be best saved for merchandise or the recording of some tracks.

4) Know Your Band! This is killer, seriously, you want to know all the details from who does what to where and when your next gig is coming up. This is the first way in which you will be able to network so you want to get it right. Equally if you don’t know the details be honest about it and don’t give any misleading answers as these can turn around and bite you back.

5) Be Approachable. In the first stage of this it is vital that you only rely on yourself to communicate with any outside sources. One person should be delegated with a contacting role and they must have a bubbly outgoing sort of person. Trust me, if you think that everyone can do this role you’re usually wrong because two or more people just confuses everything. Make sure that this person also communicates with everyone and doesn’t just accept gig’s without anyone knowing. If you are personally taking on this role there is a few more things that you need to consider. In performing this role you should never demand, be keen, and never rude because it is likely that the person you are talking to holds the key to many doors (contacts). If suddenly your gig gets cancelled at the last minute then accept the facts; these things happen. Even when you are performing at an event you want to try and network with the soundman, venue owner and other bands (particularly the popular ones) and the best way to do this is through whomever is the point of contact for the band. Under this same theme you should always approach local promoters, you can usually find their details via your local venues website or by asking a member of staff.

6) Have a Booking and Pricing Strategy. If you get given a headline gig then you want a follow up. Equally if you build good relations with another band that has a similar style then try to get gigs where that band play on the same night. With this you can build a good inter-band relationship, gain friends and their knowledge. After you have established yourself as a local artist then look for gigs further afield and see if you can make any headline shows. Even if a couple of people come to this then they may spread your name, or begin following you on Facebook, Twitter or Google+. From here you always want to kindly ask if you will be paid for performing (if they contact you) and make sure that if this is the case that you have these details in writing. Some people can be tight with payment and if you don’t sick around until the end of the evening then it is likely that you won’t get paid. Usually you will have to bring in a certain amount of people to earn any money from promoters so plug your gig and make sure that you stay and support the other bands to the end. They were there for you and you should be there for them as well. From here you may also be contacted about performing at a private function. You need to make sure that you offer these people a competitive price and have a written list of popular ‘covers’ on a ‘microsoft word document’ so that they know what they are getting, have the ability to request certain tracks, and people are entertained with music that they know and expect.

7) Don’t Cancel a Gig! Whatever you do, however you have to make it work, try not to do this. Something as small as that may mean that the event organizer gets cold feet and may not consider you for follow-ups which can loose you credibility and potentially money.

8) Invest in Merchandise. Here the most important thing to know is that colour costs money. If you have a black and white logo then you will be able to get much more for your money. Also a big thing to know is that T-Shirts are not always the way. Companies sucker you in with a ‘buy-in-bulk’ deal so don’t get sucked in to ordering 100 T-Shirts. They cost lots of money and will take you ages to sell, no matter how cheap they may be. Aim to produce stickers with your logo that people can have for free as they can act as ‘guerilla marketing’, on top of this get some posters printed and sign them! You can even do signed limited edition posters. People love a gimmick and providing you intend to get big then this may very well happen. On top of this you can make a couple of mugs with catchy slogans. People always need mugs and this way your band logo will be there for history. Here you need to aim to make sure that on your merch that you have your contact details including social networking! Marketing here should always be your aim but you do want to make a profit in the process so sell your items at a reasonable cost. On average you are looking for at least a 100% mark up on the price that you have paid so do the sums before you order – if you wouldn’t pay that much for it then your customers definitely won’t. Also get yourself on for an easy way to sell directly with a profit.

9) Get a Website and a Donation Platform. Some people want to donate money to your cause, even if its members of your family. To make sure that you are cashing in on this set up a place where people can donate money to you. CASH Music is a great non-profit organization that allows the public to donate money to you over the Internet. Once you have this then place the links on your social networking sites and make them visible. Setting up a website is not as hard as you might expect. Out there are some simple websites that allow you to create one from a template and put it up for free. Take a look at WIX, they allow you to do a lot of great things in a short amount of time and for free although you will have to spend a small amount of money if you want your own domain name. Remember to make this site easy to use and to the point. Don’t ever over complicate it and include sections such as ‘Contact Us’, ‘Bio’, ‘Photo’s’, ‘Future Events’ and ‘Function Pricing’.

10) Get into the Festival Market. If you can, plug yourself and write as many e-mails as it takes to all the major festivals and also all the smaller ‘niche market’ ones. These places, no matter how big or small, have a huge footfall and are littered with important industry experts. The chances are that you will gain more supporters for your band than you can in ten (small) gigs, you may even get paid or sell some merchandise. It is likely that you may be paid for your efforts here, and yet again, make sure that this is confirmed in writing.

Edd Harris

It is often that musicians get confused about how they can earn decent money from doing something that they love - performing. Whilst you do want to perform at some events for free, to raise your local profile...

Edd Harris 2nd January 2013

Article Ref: #StartAndEarn